When New York Governor Andrew Coumo pleaded the nation for help to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in his state, one of those to answer the call was former Savannah State women’s basketball player Mabel Sanders.
In April Cuomo said that New York City needed a million health-care workers to cope with the region’s worsening pandemic.
When asked about her experience, the former Division II All-American said that outside of the northern accents, she felt like these were the same type of patients she regularly take care of in Georgia. “I thought it would feel foreign but it just felt like I was entering a new work space. The staff was welcoming and believe it or not, my rapport with many of them was as if I had been working there all along. Nursing is nursing, wherever you are.”
Sanders said that it was God who intervened when she kept thinking up ways of not to go out of state to help out with the pandemic.
“I was discussing travel assignments with some of my co-workers who were talking about going to New York and New Orleans but I said there was no way I was doing that and as I named all of the reasons why I couldn’t go even if I wanted to. But, within a few weeks everything that I stated would prevent me from considering it, God began to resolve each of my excuses in which my last excuse was my son being in school. After being notified that the rest of the academic school year was suspended, it was like the holy spirit said …. now what?.. so I said ok Lord, ok I’ll go.”
Like anyone, Sanders had some reservations about the trip but she continued to trust in God, knowing that he would take care of her. “When I decided to go to New York I was definitely anxious about the possibility of getting sick. I cannot say that I ever was fearful. I felt that God wouldn’t encourage me to go to a place and just leave me. When I accepted the assignment, there was just a peace that surpassed all understanding.”
The Augusta native who now resides in Atlanta stated that it was hard to leave her family but she had to constantly remind herself that it was just for three weeks.
At home, Sanders floats between two hospitals. “I work at Emory on a medical surgical unit and at Eastside where I float between a behavioral health and a rehabilitation unit.”
While in New York from April 11 until May 4, she was assigned to Metropolitan Hospital in Harlem where she worked on a medical surgical COVID unit. After she returned home from her trip, she was required to quarantine herself for 14 days.
When asked if there was anything that particularly stood out during her trip, Sanders replied that it was the charting system. “Every hospital in the state is under one system which is called Epic. This is both beneficial for the patients as well as the staff.”
Sanders said that the hospital she was assigned to had enough of the major protective gear like gowns, masks ,face shields , paper scrubs and bunny suits. “The only thing I experienced a shortage of were the shoe covers. Through conversations with other nurses who were assigned to different hospitals some of them were complaining about shortages of some of the other items.”
Sanders, who as a junior at Savannah State during the 1990-91 season led all of Division II in rebounding with 14.5 per game, has been a nurse for 25 years. “My plan when I graduated high school was to become a doctor so I entered college majoring in biology and pre-med but around my sophomore year I realized that a doctor’s life was very demanding and that they are on call a lot. I knew then that that life was not for me but I could only see myself somewhere in medicine. I decided that the most logical decision for me would be nursing.”